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Twenty-Two Injured In New Jersey Beach House Deck Collapse; Drone Strikes Knock Out Five Percent Of The Global Oil Supply; Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Pins Blame On Iran Without Evidence; Former NFL Player Accused Of Staging Hate Crime Burglary; Tropical Storm Humberto Moving Away From The Bahamas; Humberto Expected To Become A Hurricane Later Today; White House Is Considering Phone App For Background Checks; Bernie Sanders Teases $2.5 Trillion National Housing Plan; Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Presidential Candidate Teases $2.5 Trillion National Housing Plan; David Ortiz Speaks For First Time About Surviving Shooting; Antonio Brown Set To Debut For Patriots; Braves' Culberson Hit By Pitch In Face; Polls Show Tuesday's Election Is Too Close To Call. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired September 15, 2019 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Saudi Arabia's oil facilities come under attack. The U.S. secretary of state blames Iran, but Yemen's Houthi rebels say they are responsible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This all does put a big question mark over the potential diplomacy, this diplomatic engagement between U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These (ph) are (ph) strikes right at the core of Saudi Aramco, the largest exporter in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dramatic images coming out of the state of New Jersey. Take a look here at the scene after a massive deck collapsed in Wildwood Saturday evening.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for being with us this Sunday.

This morning, at least 22 people have been injured in a multistory deck collapse. This happened at home in New Jersey. A spokeswoman for the Cape Regional Medical Center says that children are among those injured.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: She says one person was transported to a trauma center by helicopter. We're working together more information right now on this. We'll bring it to you a little bit later this hour.

BLACKWELL: Let's start with our top story. Houthi rebels in Yemen are claiming responsibility for the drone strikes on the world's largest oil plant in Saudi Arabia that happened yesterday. But the White House is not buying it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Iran is behind the attacks but he hasn't given any proof.

Yesterday the secretary tweeted, "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."

PAUL: So, exactly who is responsible? That's what's unclear this morning. A U.S. source with knowledge of the incident tells CNN there are signs the attacks came from inside Iraq and the "The Wall Street Journal" says officials are investigating if cruise missiles were fired from southern Iraq, not Yemen, although no evidence to back either claim has emerged.

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter.

BLACKWELL: And this knocked off half of its oil capacity. That's 5 percent of the daily world supply which means we could see a spike in gas prices.

PAUL: So, why the attacks matter? And how they'll affect you? We have CNN Senior International Correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh with us, CNN White House Reporter, Sarah Westwood, Energy Expert, Bob McNally and CNN Military Analyst, Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling all with us now.

CNN Senior International Correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, so we want to get to you first. You are in Tehran this morning. The U.S. clearly blaming Iran here. What is their reaction?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a startling harsh accusation for the U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo to put out against Iran but is met with stern response from Iranian official. His counterpart in Iran, the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif has just tweeted in fact, having failed at -- quote -- "max pressure," that is essentially what the Trump administration calls this policy towards Iran, he goes on to say, Secretary Pompeo is turning to -- quote -- "max deceit."

The U.S. and its clients are stuck in Yemen because of the illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.

The United States is backing Saudi Arabia and other allies in a long messy war in Yemen where Houthi rebels who've claimed this attack on Saudi oil facilities are actually based.

Let's go on the tweet, then goes on to say, blaming Iran won't end disaster. Accepting our April 2015 proposal to end war and begin talks May. Now he refers back to the nuclear deal hatched (ph) on the Obama administration that Donald Trump very openly walked out on say one of the worst deals he had heard about. After that, the U.S. ratcheted up what they call maximum pressure, a variety of things, sanctions, more military presence in the gulf here as well.

Donald Trump has recently said that he would potentially be open to talks without conditions, his officials suggested, with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran but Iran had said unless you ease off on these sanctions that are crippling frankly parts of daily life here in Iran we are not open talking. They say that was originally part of the deal that the U.S. signed up to that President Trump walked out on.

Let's get back though to the Saudi oil facilities. It's nothing really like what you would expect to herald (ph) diplomacy that many were looking to be the possible avenue between the U.S. and Iran. Accusations like this that maybe Iran was behind these attacks.

There are a couple of technical issues around this. We need to discuss. The Yemen Houthi rebels who have claimed responsibility for the attacks they are a long way away from these oil facilities and many are wondering if that rag tag group of rebels really had it in them to put together what they say were the 10 drones that flew all that distance across Saudi Arabia to carry out these devastating attacks. Some say actually they have got much better at drone technology recently that has led perhaps to these U.S. officials -- most anonymously none with any evidence to back them up, suggest that perhaps the attacks came from a different direction maybe from southern Iraq.


Iraq's government come out stark and said, we have nothing to do with it. The U.S. suggestion really comes around to Iran perhaps being behind the idea that the Yemenis need some help to do this. Now I should point out that U.S. senators who have been critical of U.S. policy in the region, particularly in Yemen like Chris Murphy of Connecticut have some forward and said, look, just because the Iranians are helping that Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, doesn't mean that everything that those rebels do is actually also Iran.

So, a lot of complex here. But essentially we have a big gulf between what we're seeing on the ground here and the accusation that Iran is somehow behind it labeled by the United States. A lot of evidence is going to need to come forward in the days ahead to back that claim up but is ratcheting up tensions here remarkably.

One important point to remember is that Saudi Arabia, the target and the victim of these attacks that spent tens of billions of dollars on its air defense, exactly this kind of thing happening but wasn't able to stop these 10 drones. They have yet to come forward and say that they think Iran was ultimately behind this.

So, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo kind of on his own here. There are officials briefing, back up to what he said but a lot of people are asking how are we going to get to the point where this is backed up by evidence and all that gap it just leads to greater tension in this area here. Back to you.

PAUL: Nick Paton Walsh, boy, thank you so much for that great explainer there.

Sarah Westwood, I want to ask you about something he responded to or he was talking about, the lawmakers who are weighing out in this particularly, Senator Chris Murphy, he called it an irresponsible simplification and it's how we get into dumb wars. Referring to Secretary Pompeo's tweet.

What is the president saying about this criticism?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi and Victor, President Trump saying that his administration will continue to provide stability to the world oil market. Energy Secretary Rick Perry also has been briefed on this saying the U.S. stands ready to use its reserve supply of petroleum if needed to be to stabilize the global economy in the event that all of this energy -- all of this energy, all of this oil resources that Saudi Arabia has, has been knocked out by these missiles.

We saw the stock market take a little bit of a dive. We have seen the markets react to the news that all of this oil has been taken out. But as Nick mentioned there has been a mixed reaction from lawmakers about the Trump administration's aggressive and very own immediate response to point the fingers at the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

As you mentioned Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, one of those lawmakers calling this a simplification, acknowledging that the Iranians have backed Houthi in Yemen, that there has been something of a proxy war. Iran and Saudi Arabia has been engaging with the Houthis there in the middle but it's not so simple as Iran being directly behind the attacks. And there is some uncertainty in the global community about who did conduct those attacks.

You did not see a lot of signatories to the Iran nuclear deal besides the U.K. coming out and pointing the finger at Iran the way that the United States did. And now the question is how is President Donald Trump going to respond?

He has exhausted a lot of his nonmilitary options in terms of running (ph) in Iran (ph). He has already imposed a very strict sanctions regime on Iran who has already designated the IRGC as a terrorist group, so he is running out of options here and this, of course, is coming at a time when his national security team has been thinned out and does not have a permanent national security adviser, he does not have a permanent direction of National Intelligence so this is difficult foreign policy situation that President Donald Trump now finds himself in, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Sarah Westwood, thank you.

Bob McNally, I want to bring you into the conversation because you worked to protect this facility Abqaiq while on President Bush's National Security Council. Did you see something like this coming? I mean, how vulnerable is this site? BOB MCNALLY, PRESIDENT, RAPIDAN GROUP: Yes, we did. Those of us who worked in energy security consider Abqaiq the big one. And we go to sleep and wake up every day, worried about the safety of that facility and I certainly did after 9/11 and during the second Iraq war.

The Abqaiq facility is the heart of the global oil system. And oil remains the lifeblood of civilization. If you damage the Abqaiq facility, you have a heart attack.

And it's hard to overstate how bad that is for consumers everywhere, including here, because the oil market is global and what happens in the Middle East affects pump prices here in the United States. So it is hard to overstate the seriousness of an attack on the crown jewel, the Saudi oil system and the global oil market. The Abqaiq stabilization plant.

PAUL: So, Bob, how long before oil production do you think can be back to normal levels? How much damage did this do at the end of the day?

MCNALLY: Yes. That's the big question and we don't know. So, the Saudi oil minister said over the weekend he'll let us know by tomorrow.


It was 48 hours as of yesterday. So, we don't know. We have satellite images of the attack and from that we're trying to guess, but we don't know.

But the key thing here is Abqaiq has some very special equipment, very hard to replace equipment. There are columns and spheroids and the questions is whether those columns and spheroids were damaged. And we don't know that yet.

Until then it's really just guesswork. It could be a matter of days or weeks. That would be a good thing. But it could be a matter of months to quarters. That would be a heart attack.

PAUL: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, I want to bring you into this conversation and talk about these 10 drones. I mean, this is new kind of war fare.

Former CIA operative Robert Baer said as a guerrilla weapon they are really scary. I know that they are difficult to detect unless they're large enough to be picked up by radar, for radar to track. But what is your reaction to what we are seeing here?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they are -- they are extremely dangerous, Christi. And they are not all that new. They have been around for many years.

This kind of drone swarm is something that the United States military is looking at with a lot of effort to try and counter it. It's difficult to counter. But I'd like to talk a little bit about some facts from where these drones may have been launched from. There are drones on the market. Relatively cheap ones that can travel up to the distance of 950 miles. The facility is about 500 miles from the northern Yemeni border. They could have come from there. They also could have come from Iraq, even though Iraq's president said yesterday they did not.

When you know about the deserts of southern Iraq and the deserts of northern Yemen you know that there's not a whole lot of ability to track the launch of these kinds of things. They could have even come from inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia because there are a lot of revolutionaries inside the kingdom that are trying to count the government of Saudi Arabia.

The other thing when you're talking about drone swarms, they are very difficult to pick up on radar. The intelligence community has some huge challenges in terms of pinpointing facts from where they originated from and how much damage they could cause when they come together like this. This is all part of something that the U.S. military is calling multi-domain operations.

It's cheap, it's inexpensive. It collaborates with conventional strikes. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been relentlessly attacking Yemen. This is an opportunity to go against the very expensive weaponry that Saudi Arabia built comes -- brings to the battlefield and Yemen can strike back.

What it supported by Iran? That's certainly a strong possibility. But to say emphatically like our government is doing that Iran was behind this is inappropriate at this point until the intelligence community determines exactly where these things came from, which brings up the final two issues I talk about.

Our national security team and our intelligence community are in turmoil right now. And I would really suggest anyone that is making comments from any government, until there is proof of fact, really can't be believed completely that they are stating 100 percent accurately what happened.

PAUL: I heard that definitive statement made a lot of people nervous, I think. Nick Paton Walsh, Sarah Westwood, Bob McNally, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, we appreciate all of you so much. Thank you for taking the time this morning.

BLACKWELL: Now the news out of New Jersey where at least 22 people were injured. Some of them children after this deck collapsed.

Look at the pictures here. This is a beach house. It happened last night. We will get you more in a moment.

PAUL: And have you heard about this? The White House is considering a phone app as part of a gun control proposal. So, how is that supposed to work? We're going to talk about it.

BLACKWELL: And frightening moments when an Atlanta Braves player gets hit in the face by a 90-mile-per-hour fastball.



PAUL: At least 22 people, including children, were injured when a multilevel deck collapsed. This happened at a New Jersey home yesterday.

BLACKWELL: So, a spokeswoman for a medical center there says one person was transported to the trauma center by helicopter. CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this. Polo, what have you learned overnight?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys. Looking at the map there you could see that this deck collapse happened in resort city of Wildwood in the New Jersey coast. It was a very busy weekend for many families enjoying the last bit of summer here when authorities were called out to this deck collapse yesterday evening. Rushing to the aid of not just children but the firefighters rushing to the aid of some of their own.

You see, this was the scene of the New Jersey's annual firefighters' convention. So we are told that a majority of the injured are firefighters and some of their family. When you look at these pictures incredible that are ready at least half of the roughly 22 people injured, including the children, have already been released. And then you hear the description from witnesses in what happened yesterday.


GAIL IVINS, WITNESSED DECK COLLAPSE: The first floor deck pulled away first and people started sliding off and yelling, you know, and falling. It came off in pieces. The second floor -- both decks most of it came off but there was a four section, like a quarter of the deck was still on the building and there was a 2-year-old little girl on the one deck all by herself on that little corner, and another lady on the third floor.

And we were yelling to the little girl to stay away from the edge and thank God -- then that one came down but it went slowly, thank God. And they -- as it went down, she slid off and there were men there to grab her.


SANDOVAL: You see some of those affiliate pictures showing that file of debris. Let's give you some perspective now to show you exactly what it looked like before these decks came crashing down. CNN finding an imagine on Google street view, important to point out that we have not been able to confirm it yet with authorities but it does closely match the images that we have seen, that have been coming from our affiliates and teams on the ground there since yesterday evening.

When you see them side-by-side it really does give you a better look and a better idea of the devastation that was left behind. The question exactly how did this happen? Were there perhaps too many people on those decks? That is all going to be what investigators are going to be asking today as they try to find out exactly what happened yesterday in New Jersey. Back to you.

PAUL: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you.

BLACKWELL: A former NFL player is accused of vandalizing his own business to make it look like it was the target in a hate crime.


Now police say they got call that someone was inside the Atlanta business, possibly robbing the place. But inside the restaurant, police found slurs, swastikas, MAGAs spray painted on the walls and furniture.

PAUL: They confronted the owner Edawn Coughman after they saw him near the scene in a hoodie and with gloves on and found TVs inside his truck. In a statement Coughman's attorney says his client told police he noticed the damage and called his insurance company to report the damage but he didn't call 911. Police say it appears Coughman made up the whole attack.


CORPORAL MICHELE PIHERA, GWINNETT COUNTY POLICE: This diminishes those cases where we have true victims of hate crimes. So, we wanted to make sure we got in front of this to explain to the community that this was not a hate crime. We believe that Mr. Coughman is responsible of all of the vandalism inside the business.


PAUL: Coughman didn't respond to CNN's request for comment. He is out on bond and facing several charges including false report of a crime.

BLACKWELL: Tropical storm Humberto brushes past the storm ravaged Bahamas. It was not as bad as it could have been, but it's expected to gain strength and become a Category 2 hurricane. We have the latest on where it could be headed next.

PAUL: Also, can a smartphone app help America's gun control problem? The White House is considering this. We have details for you next.



PAUL: Twenty-five minutes past the hour right now. You are looking at the radar there of tropical storm Humberto moving away from the Bahamas this hour.

BLACKWELL: But this storm is still turning, expected to become a hurricane later today. CNN Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar is with us now. Allison, where is this storm headed next?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, it's starting to move almost due north away from the Bahamas which is a good thing taking away the threat for strong winds as well as very heavy rain. But since we last spoke yesterday morning the storm has started to intensify. Sustained winds now up to 60 miles per hour so it's still a very strong tropical storm but we expect further strengthening over the next few days.

Here is why. As it continues its trek up to the north and then starts to veer off to the east it's actually going to encounter a much more favorable environment and very warm ocean temperatures. So, that is going to allow it to strengthen into a Category 1 and eventually even into a Category 2 storm likely maybe say by midweek, say around early Wednesday. Potentially even impacting Bermuda by the time we get to Thursday. So, something we will have to clearly keep an eye out for, especially across areas in Bermuda.

We are also looking at this other area of thunderstorms across portions of the Gulf of Mexico. Doesn't really look like much right now but it does have the potential to turn into something as it goes further west. It will encounter a little bit more of a favorable environment at that point.

And also, again, Victor and Christi, keeping an eye. It's mid September. We have also got this other system out here over the Atlantic that has about a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical system in the five days.

PAUL: Allison Chinchar, busy time of year for you. I know. Thank you.


BLACKWELL: Well, the White House is expected to roll out its plan to reduce gun violence next week that's according to officials. And one gun proposal being considered, according to a Senate source, is a phone app for background check. The proposed app would be connected to the National Background Check System and it would be used during private sales, not for purchasing guns from commercial dealers.

Joining me now to discuss CNN Political Commentator and political for anchor "Spectrum News," Errol Louis.

Errol, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So, this app for private sales does it meet the energy and the enthusiasm from people who want something done about gun violence and does this meet the threshold the president set for using his words, important, strong, meaningful background checks?

LOUIS: Well, no. Frankly, it doesn't really work on either side of the equation, Victor, because if you're talking about private sales, it introduces a host of legitimate privacy issues. If you're talking with somebody that you met online, you're trying to arrange a private sale, going into the background system on an app starts to tell you potentially all kinds of information that most people would legitimately want to keep private. You know? I mean, medical records get to be involved if you're talking about somebody who is bad for those reasons. Somebody's criminal background might be disclosed in a way that maybe people are not quite comfortable with. And, frankly, overall, it creates or it takes a step toward creating a national registry which has been really kind of a line in the sand for a lot of the Second Amendment advocates. So, it doesn't really work there.

And then when it comes to the president, the NRA is never going to stand for something like this. This will be another one of the big fights that they're going to go hard at the White House as we've seen the White House folds under pressure from the NRA.

BLACKWELL: Yes. A source tells us that officials who are presenting this options to the president aren't going into details. The president doesn't seem to follow up on any of these. We are approaching the final quarter before an election year. We'll see if this moves anyone in any direction toward stronger gun safety laws.

Let's move on to 2020 for the Democrats and Senator Sanders rolled out portions of, not full rollout, his housing plan $2.5 trillion over 10 years focusing on rent control and affordable housing. Here is what he said.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is unacceptable to me that there is virtually no place in America where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a decent two-bedroom apartment and that is not acceptable. If you are working 40 hours a week, and if you are working hard, you deserve a safe and affordable place.


BLACKWELL: Goals and headlines that most people agree with. The question is how do you pay for this? He rolled out two weeks ago a plan, $81 billion to pay off medical debt without a pay for.


Does there appear to be a consequence for Senator Sanders that there lacks the second half of the conversation in some plans, not all, of how do you pay for these multitrillion dollar plans, in some case, in $81 billion for the medical.

LOUIS: Well, I mean, look, that part of the plan is always taken care of with Senator Sanders. He's identified who is going to pay for it, and he said it will be the top, I think, 0.1 of 1 percent. Meaning he wants to tax the wealth to carry out this plan very similar to what he has in mind for a number of other proposals that he's put forward, especially in healthcare.

That's not really the problem, Victor. I think the difficulty in the plan, or I should say the complexity of the plan that we should appreciate, is that it's got a lot of different solutions. You know, not all rent issues are the same and not all solutions are the same within Senator Sanders' plan. He's talking both about fully funding public housing, and that's physical apartments that the public happens to know is usually a federal and state and maybe local combined responsibility.

And then he's also talking about fully funding Section 8, which is a voucher program. He's got other sort of affordable housing schemes that are in there that involve tax credits to enable local developers to build housing. And he's talking about rent control, which is a regulatory scheme, which is exclusively local.

So it's actually a pretty complicated plan and the cost is, in some way, the least of it, are trying to figure out what's needed where is, I think, where the plan is going to sort of have to work its way through the political and we'll be able to determine whether or not it's going to be useful.

BLACKWELL: Yes, trying to create a national standard for rent control, I guess 3 percent or half of inflation, whichever is higher.

We'll talk also about the HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, who is heading to California this week to talk about the problem of homelessness, something the president has targeted recently and matched that up with the budget proposals. That's a little later this morning.

Errol Louis, thanks so much.

LOUIS: Thank you, Victor.

PAUL: So we've been watching peaceful protests that seem to have turned violent when demonstrators clashed with police in Hong Kong. This was just from a short while ago. Officers fired tear gas, water cannon to protesters. Crowds began smashing glass, security cameras near a transit city station in the city's central business district and crowding roads near the legislative council.

Take a look at this as something there was set fire on their route. We do know this is 15 weeks now, all of these protests.

BLACKWELL: We've got the pictures here from the scene. One of our crews on the ground saw protesters throwing Molotov cocktails back at officers. And, essentially, the weeks now, months of protest, have been about reducing the influence of Beijing on Hong Kong that started. Of course, they're trying to get an extradition bill to be pulled. Well, that has happened. They want Carrie Lam, the executive there, to resign. That has not happened.

We'll see -- again, this is the time of the day we're reaching 6:30 P.M. in Hong Kong where if things become violent once the sun goes down and the unauthorized, non-permitted protests begin. We'll see how far this goes. We'll get you, of course, the latest, as it comes in.

You see that blue dye on the right, as officials have been using that to sprayed protesters to identify them later to press charges if they indeed choose to do that. PAUL: MLB start David Ortiz says he was in a fight for his life in his first sit-down T.V. interview since being shot in the Dominican Republican last summer. Details on his emotional interview, that's just ahead.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the Braves player recovering this morning after being hit in the face by a pitch headed toward him at 90 miles per hour. We have the latest on his condition.



BLACKWELL: For the first time, Red Sox legend David Ortiz is describing surviving a shooting in the Dominican Republic. Now, this was an exclusive interview with CNN affiliate, Univision. And Ortiz says the first thing he felt was a sting when the bullet hit him, then just the feeling of trying to survive.

PAUL: He actually got really emotional noting how close he was to death and he was upset by the rumors surrounding the incident. Police say Ortiz was not the target in the June attack, that the shooter was actually aiming for one of Ortiz's friend.

BLACKWELL: Antonio Brown is expected to be on the field for the New England Patriots when they play the Dolphins later today.

PAUL: Andy Scholes is at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. What are the conversations going on there, Andy, about this?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, good morning, guys. Well, it's pretty much all about Antonio Brown before this Patriots and Dolphins game. He is expected to make his Patriots debut on this field later today despite the sexual assault allegations that were made against him early this week in the civil suit.

Now, Brown, who has denied those allegations, was on the team plane with the Patriots to Miami here yesterday, according to ESPN.

Now, there was talk of whether the NFL should put Brown on the commissioner's exempt list in light of the allegations, which means he would get paid but he could not play while the NFL investigates.

Now, I talked to some NFL fans here in Miami and they think Brown playing this week with is the right call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We start punitive measures against players based solely on allegations without the any of the basics -- the initial measures that you would take to investigate that. I mean, we are going down in a very slippery slope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Innocent until proven guilty. And I feel like he need the reps. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NFL is not doing anything about it, so, clearly, they do drop the ball in some situations before, so I don't think there's anything new. They are letting him play so [06:40:00] I guess that means it's okay for right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if he can't make this work, he's done.


SCHOLES: Now, sources tell CNN that Brown's accuser is expected to meet with the league this coming week. And we will know for sure if Brown is going to play today, about 90 minutes before kickoff. That's when NFL teams announce who will be active and inactive for their game.

All right, to baseball now. A very scary moment in last night's Braves Nationals game, Charlie Culberson taking a 91-mile-per-hour fastball right off of his face while he was trying to lay down a bunt. He would have to leave the game in a cart.

He suffered a fractured right cheekbone that is going to require surgery and he is going to miss the rest of the season. Braves manager Brian Snitker then was also very upset about the whole deal and got ejected from the game because he was mad Culberson was given a strike.

And the Braves got a win last night. They clenched a postseason berth, guys, but there was no celebrating in the clubhouse afterwards, obviously, because everyone is still very concerned about the health of Culberson.

PAUL: 90 miles an hour.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Understandably, everyone was concerned.

PAUL: We hope he is okay.

BLACKWELL: Andy Scholes in Miami, thank you.

PAUL: So the Israeli general election is a close one between the two main parties. But we're going to look at how one man could tip the scales for the two frontrunners. We are live in Jerusalem when we come back.



BLACKWELL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a tough path to staying in power. On Tuesday, he takes on his main rival, former Army Chief Benny Gantz. And like their previous race just months ago, neither has a clear path to an overwhelming victory, so Netanyahu has been making a series of controversial promises to secure every right wing vote he can, including vowing to annex part of the West Bank.

And just yesterday, there was news he spoke to President Trump about a mutual defense treaty with the United States. But are voters buying this?

Let's talk about it with Isabel Kershner. She's the Jerusalem Correspondent for "The New York Times."

Isabel, good morning to you. You've got a new piece out. Israeli voters may like Netanyahu's promises but don't necessarily believe them. So how convincing is this newest promise to annex part of the Jordan Valley?

ISABEL KERSHNER, JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, he made -- Netanyahu made a similar promise before the last election in April when he said in a television interview that he would, if elected, annex the settlements of the West Bank.

Many people, including his own supporters and people to the right, are asking, well, if that's your plan, why haven't you done anything in that direction in the last ten years in office? So there is definitely a lot of skepticism.

However, I must say that if Netanyahu does manage to scrape together a right wing coalition this time around, we are expecting the Trump administration to release its peace plan, long-awaited plan, sometime possibly soon after the election. And annexation could come in some kind of coordination with that, theoretically.

So while many people here have dismissed it as an empty campaign promise, there could be something to it in the end.

BLACKWELL: So there are these billboards of the prime minister and President Trump smiling and shaking hand all over.


BLACKWELL: And we just received that Twitter or the president tweeted about the conversation about a mutual defense agreement with the United States. What's the potency of an announcement like that from President Trump in the final days before an election?

KERSHNER: Well, I think this was the most that Netanyahu have managed to restart of President Trump this time around. I think during the last election campaign, he got a lot more help. He could call on President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem the year before the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and then, of course, the recognition of Israeli control of sovereignty over Golan Heights, which were more tangible.

Now, we have this late promise of talks, further talks about a mutual defense treaty or pact. And many people very aware what President Trump said was we will continue to talk about this in September at the United Nations meeting. So nobody is putting great store by it.

But more than that, this is an election gift, if you will, that Mr. Netanyahu's opponents are saying they wouldn't even want because on the other side in the Blue and White centrist party led by Benny Gantz, you have you three former chiefs of staff and two of them have come out already and said, we don't want a mutual defense treaty with the United States because it could tie Israel's hand.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And, of course, the question then is if Netanyahu wins, will he be able to put together a coalition, a ruling coalition that he wasn't able to do in April to prevent a third election. So we will see. Tuesday is the vote. Isabel Kershner, thanks so much for being with us.

KERSHNER: Yes, that's right. You're welcome. Thank you very much.

PAUL: Well, guess what. It's been 25 years since the premiere of Friends. Can you imagine Chandler as -- well, I should say, Matthew Perry, not as Chandler, did you know that he almost didn't get the role?

CNN's own Alisyn Camerota does get the scoop from the series creator, next.



PAUL: 25 years ago, the sitcom, Friends, premiered introducing us to Monica, Rachel, Joey, Ross, Phoebe and Chandler, and the show ran for ten seasons. It's still growing in popularity, believe it or not. It's owned by Warner Brothers T.V., which is part of CNN's parent company, by the way, Warner Media.

In honor of the show's anniversary, CNN is getting the back story on some of the show's most iconic scenes. Here is a look.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Matthew Perry, you really wanted him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was the first one we offered Chandler to. And he was doing another show called LAX 2194.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the sci-fi sitcom, LAX 2194.

MATTHEW PERRY, AMERICAN ACTOR: It's about baggage handlers in the year 2194. I sorted out alien's luggage.

CAMEROTA: That is not a winning title.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it's not. It's not. But that was in first position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That happens when you find a talent that you think is perfect for a role and you'll take the chance the other show will fail and they will become available.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were a little nervous about it but we saw a million people and even made an offer to someone else.



CAMEROTA: It's the 25th anniversary. Now the truth can be told.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a lovely actor named Craig Bierko.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he didn't want to do an ensemble show.

CAMEROTA: I'm going with not Craig's best decision.


PAUL: So CNN Anchor Alisyn Camerota obviously sat down with the show's creators, as well as some of the memorable guest stars for that special. And I talked to her [06:55:00] and I asked her if there were other people were offered some of these roles.


CAMEROTA: It turns out that a lot of the cast that we have come to know and love were already committed to other projects. And so, yes, there were definitely other people who they were considering, who auditioned, some of whom they offered the parts to. And then, truly, at the last minute, it was as if the stars aligned for this particular winning chemistry to come together.

And now, of course, it's unimaginable to think of any other character, actor or actress ever playing these characters.

PAUL: I was saying I'm so jealous you got this assignment because this is just fun. It's just so fun. Was there anything you learned that surprised you that you went, oh, my gosh, I didn't know that?

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God, yes. And you'll definitely learn things when you see the special. There was just all sorts of different behind the scenes interesting dynamics.

One of the things that we learned that's revealed tonight on the special is, in the very first show, the pilot that begins this entire series, Courtney Cox's character has a one-night stand, if you'll recall. And so I asked the creators how that -- did they make that up or where did they come up with that plot line. And you'll hear that it was actually based on one of their own real experiences.

PAUL: that is what I wanted to ask you, because we think back to Seinfeld, the show about nothing, but it was nothing that everybody could relate to. How much of what we see in this show came from real stories or real people?

CAMEROTA: A lot. A lot. Because if you're going to have a successful show on for ten year, you do have to mind your own personal history or mine the history of the actors or the writers. And so there were definitely scenarios that they did that with.

I think that that's part of what their winning combination was, which was they had quirky scenarios and funny scenarios but they also had ones that did resonate in our own lives, the whole on again and off again relationships that they all had, the hits and misses with relationships. You'll find out that some of those were based on their own real lives.

PAUL: Wow.


PAUL: The CNN special report, "Friends Forever: 25 Years of Laughter," tonight at 9:00 Eastern only here on CNN.